Written by: Krista Baum
Chicago, a city known for its beautiful architecture, Chicago style pizza and hot dogs, the Magnificent Mile, international neighborhoods, world-renown museums, jazz and blues…and a destination site for many travelers.
One of the advantages about living in Chicago is that it is so diverse.
At Hostelling International Chicago international travel, diversity, and becoming a global citizen are some of the key components that make us who we are.
HI-Chicago offers a multitude of educational programs and traveler outings, but one that seems to stand out among the rest is Cultural Kitchen.
Cultural Kitchen is an educational program that HI-Chicago offers throughout the entire year, and is run primarily by Megan Johnson, and her current Education intern. This summer 2011, Megan and her Education intern, Eleanor, ran four Cultural Kitchen’s.
Cultural Kitchen’s purpose is to enrich the lives of Chicago’s youth and give them a better understanding of cultural awareness and what it means to be a global citizen.
This summer, Megan and Eleanor have worked with four different summer youth programs in the Chicagoland area. They were: Christopher House, McGaw YMCA, Centro Romero, and Gads Hill Center. Each group participated in classroom sessions, chose a country to study, and came to HI-Chicago to cook a meal from that country and then do a presentation afterwards.
Christopher House chose to study Brazil, McGaw YMCA chose Romania, Centro Romero chose Italy, and Gads Hill Center chose France. Each of these youth groups were able to come to HI-Chicago to cook a meal from their country, participate in Human Bingo, fill out their Cultural Passport, and give a presentation about all that they learned about their chosen countries.
All of the meals and presentations were great! Some of the groups got really creative, and demonstrated cultural dances, sang songs, and had examples of common phrases in that country’s native language.
Then everyone got to spend a night in the hostel. They were able to play games, meet travelers, and explore the city at night! The next morning, everyone attends a reflection about what they learned from Cultural Kitchen and what they will take away from their stay in the hostel.
I definitely recommend staff members, interns, volunteers, and travelers at HI-Chicago to attend a Cultural Kitchen at least once! It’s an amazing experience where you can learn a lot about a foreign culture through the perspective of Chicago's youth.